Heart attack, despite being one of the leading causes of death in the United States, can be prevented through a few primary care measures. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart encounters blockage. The blockage is usually the accumulation of cholesterol, fat and other substances. They create plaque in the arterial walls that deliver blood to the heart (coronary arteries).
The plaque ultimately breaks off and creates a clot. The disrupted blood flow can harm portions of the heart muscles. Also called myocardial infarction, a heart attack can be deadly, but the treatment has improved remarkably with time. Below are primary care tips for preventing a heart attack.
Primary care tips
Keep your blood pressure in check
High blood pressure is a high-risk element for heart disease. It is essential to have your blood pressure measured regularly – at least once yearly, or more if your blood pressure is high. Take measures such as lifestyle changes to control or manage high blood pressure.
Monitor cholesterol and triglyceride levels
High cholesterol levels can block the arteries and increase the risk of a heart attack or coronary heart disease. Lifestyle changes and drugs (in some cases) can reduce cholesterol. Triglycerides are another example of the fat found in the blood. Too many triglycerides can increase the risk of coronary artery disease, mostly in women.
Consume a healthy diet
Reduce your consumption of saturated fats, high sodium foods and added sugars. Increase your intake of vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains. Consider adopting the dash diet – a meal plan that helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol – to reduce the chances of heart diseases.
Shed some weight
Obesity or being overweight can put you at the risk of developing heart disease. They are associated with other risk factors of heart disease, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and triglycerides and diabetes. Monitoring your weight can reduce these risks.
Exercise offers many benefits, including boosting heart strength and enhancing blood circulation. It can also help keep your weight in check and reduce blood pressure and cholesterol.
Excessive alcohol intake can increase blood pressure levels. It also contains additional calories that may lead to weight gain. These can predispose you to risks of heart attack.
Smoking increases your blood pressure and makes you prone to stroke or heart attack. Do not start smoking, if you have not. If you smoke, stopping will reduce your risk of heart disease. Talk to your primary care physician about smoking cessation.
Stress is related to heart disease in multiple ways. It can increase your blood pressure, and extreme stress can prompt a heart attack. Also, certain methods of dealing with stress such as drinking, smoking and overeating are harmful to the heart. You can manage stress healthily by getting enough sleep and rest, exercising, meditating or listening to music.
The primary care tips listed above are effective for preventing a heart attack. Ensure you visit your primary care doctor regularly for medical checkups if you are more prone to the condition. If you think you might be having a heart attack, call 911 or any emergency medical service close to you immediately.
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